TMobile has been heavily advertising the new TMobile jump program to upgrade your smart phone. Is it a good deal? In this article we look whether TMobile’s Jump! program will save you any money or get you better smart phones.
How it Works
How the Jump! program works is that you are allowed to buy new smart phone at full retail price every six months instead of every 2 years like the other big cell phone companies allow. The opportunity to pay full retail price of $500 or more for a smart phone twice a year? No thanks! This is obviously not a good deal and I don’t know why they are advertising this as a good deal. Hoping that your customers are stupid is never a good business model.
Other cell phone companies “allow” you to get a new smart phone every two years, but they work much differently than TMobile. The other companies sell you their phones at heavily subsidized prices and then make up for the cheap cell phone prices by charging high monthly fees for the next two years. T-Mobile charges full retail price for their phones, but then charges less every month and doesn’t lock you into a contract.
Subsidized phone plans are a horrible deal for consumers because the total cost over the two year contract is hundreds of dollars more than nonsubsidized cell phones. So TMobile’s plan is actually a pretty good deal for consumers. But, pretending they are doing you a favor by “letting” you pay full retail price of $500 or more is ridiculous. Because T-Mobile lets you bring your own phone, there are better options.
If you want to be on TMobile’s network, let’s look at ways to get a phone that really are good deals. There are three ways go get a good deal on a TMobile phone: You can buy a new cheap phone from T-Mobile; you can buy a used smart phone from Craigslist, EBay, or Amazon; or if you want a top of the line phone you can buy the Google Nexus 4.
Cheap Smart Phones for TMobile
If you go to TMobile’s website and check the clearance section, you can usually find a basic smart phone for around $100. When I searched at the time this article was written, the Samsung Gravity Smart was on sale for just under $100. Reviews of this phone are OK, but not great. It can’t do a lot of the things the latest smart phones can do, but it can do all the basic stuff like make phone calls, receive emails, take pictures, run a bunch of apps, and surf the web. If that’s all you want to do, buying the most basic phone is a pretty good option.
Buy a used Smart phone.
The latest smart phones cost $500- $600 or more. A year from now those phones will be two generations old and will cost about $200 on Craigslist. If you’re OK with buying the smart phone that was the best phone in the world last year, you can get a great phone and save a ton of money. You can find Art of Being Cheap’s guide to buying on Craigslist here. EBay and Amazon are also good places to buy used phones.
Buy a top of the line smart phone and still get a great deal
If you are the type of person who wants to have the latest and greatest, the Google Nexus 4 is a great deal. Earlier this year, it was the most powerful phone in the world. By the middle of 2013 other phones have caught up and passed it in terms of power, but those phones cost twice as much.
There are two options for buying the Nexus 4. You can buy it from TMobile for $400, or you can buy the exact same phone from Google’s Play Store for $200. I would recommend paying $200. (Sometimes writing advice columns on saving money isn’t very hard.)
I won’t go into the technical specifications of why the Nexus 4 is so great because this isn’t a tech website, this is a website about saving money. I will just say that all the specs in the Nexus 4 are very comparable to a phone that costs twice as much.
Even if you disregard the specs on the phone, there are several reasons that the Nexus 4 is better than even the most expensive smart phone:
- There is no garbage on the Nexus 4. Ever been on a tour in a foreign country where they make you stop at some glass factory and pretend they are taking you to see something of real historical value instead of a tourist trap? Touring companies get paid by those tourist traps which helps subsidize the cost of your tour.Cell phone companies do the same thing. They load your new phone with a bunch of apps you don’t want because they are paid by the developer to put them on your phone. Then they lock your phone down so you aren’t able to delete these apps even if you don’t want them on your phone. This is known as “crapware” or “bloatware”, and it isn’t only annoying, it also eats up your phones memory and battery life making your phone slower and generally less useful.The Nexus 4 on the other hand doesn’t have this bloatware. The software it comes with is barebones, and you only load the apps you actually want. This makes the phone faster than phones with similar specs and gives it incredible battery life. Every other phone I ever owned was nearly dead by 5pm each day, but the Nexus 4’s battery is so good I only have to charge it every other night.
- The Google Nexus 4 has NFC technology that allows you to use virtual wallets such as “Google Wallet” to pay for everything using your phone. This may not mean much to you now, but I firmly believe this is the future of the payment system. Why would I want to carry around a wallet if I don’t have to? My prediction is within a few years all major retailers will have the infrastructure in place to accept this kind of payment system, and that most Americans will be using it.Most of the other top of the line smart phones have this NFC technology, but it is locked down so it won’t work with virtual wallets such as Google Wallet for reasons I don’t really understand.
- The Google Nexus 4 is unlocked so you can take it to any phone carrier that uses the GSM technology that TMobile does. If you are in America, the Nexus 4 works on T-Mobile, AT&T, Straight talk, or any of the other prepaid plans that work on either the TMobile or AT&T networks.If you happen to find yourselves in a foreign country the Nexus 4 will work almost anywhere in the world (not Japan). Just buy a cheap SIM card when you arrive at your destination and your Nexus 4 is up and running.
- I won’t go into all the cool features this phone has, but I really like the 360 degree panoramic photo option. Here is a picture I took while hiking this morning:
So the T-Mobile Jump program! doesn’t really amount to anything. It is basically just meaningless advertising nonsense. But TMobile’s no contract plans and the ability to bring your own phone to your TMobile plan give you the ability to find yourself a great deal. Because there is no contract, you are also able to leave TMobile when a better deal comes along.
Since this article was originally written, the price of teh Nexus 4 has fallen to $199. At this price, don’t even consider buying another kind of smart phone.